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3 in 4 German daycare children under-served: study

August 25, 2020

The majority of children in German daycares don't have enough staff tending to them, a new study from the Bertelsmann Foundation has shown. The quality of care is also insufficient, particularly in Western Germany.

A child plays at a daycare in Germany
Image: Anggatira Gollmer

The quality of care in German daycare centers is still sub-par despite recent improvements, a study from the Bertelsmann Foundation revealed Tuesday. 

Staffing conditions and class sizes in German daycares or nurseries — known as "Kitas" — are "not suitable for children," wrote the authors of the report "State Monitor on Early Childhood Education Systems".

Daycare employees' level of training is also inadequate, especially in western Germany, the report said. 

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Three in four daycare children under-served

The study found that each childcare worker in Germany was responsible for 4.2 daycare children on average. For children over three years old, the ratio was 8.8 children per employee. 

The foundation, which regularly examines German government investment in education, recommends that one daycare employee be responsible for no more than three children under the age of three or 7.5 over that age. 

By this standard, 74% of the 1.7 million children attending daycare in Germany do not have enough qualified personnel tending to them. 

The most recent figures are, however, an improvement compared to 2013, when the aggregate childcare worker looked after 4.6 young children or 9.6 older children.

Over half of all classes too large

The class size in German daycares is also not in line with the foundation’s recommendation, the study showed. 

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Foundation standards recommend younger children be in classes of no more than 12 children. For older children, class sizes should be limited to 18. In just over half of cases, the figures exceeded these recommendations. 

Training gaps in the west

Only 66% of daycare staff in western German states are trained educators, the study said, compared to 82% in eastern German states. 

Bertelsmann Foundation Executive Board member Jörg Dräger called on politicians to continue expanding access to childcare in Germany. Improvements in recent years had been considerable, he said, but many institutions remained "unsuitable for children."

Germany's Association for Education and Training also called for more training opportunities for childcare employees as well as greater pay. 

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Despite improvements, the daycare worker shortage remained dire, said Association Chairman Udo Beckmann.

"If daycare centers are unable to fulfil their educational mandate, or can only do so to a limited extent, this will have a devastating effect on the future educational career," he warned.

kp/msh (dpa, KNA)